This film is part of Free

End of the Line?

The battle lines are drawn up for and against closing a historic railway line, with the latter proving the more determined and persuasive.

Documentary 1985 26 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


This is an intriguing film made at the height of the battle to save the Settle-Carlisle Line after British Rail declared their intention to close it. On the one side stands the campaign to save it, led by The Friends of the Settle to Carlisle Line, on the other, putting the case for its closure, is Ron Cotton, appointed by British Rail to oversee its closure. Part of the interest of the film is what subsequently transpired as Cotton ended up playing a large part in helping to save it.

A Yorkshire Television documentary that may well have had a hand in saving one of Britain’s finest train journeys. An irony is that Bill Cotton was also charged with maximising revenue while the line was open, and so he introduced special cheap fares, then Round Robin tickets and then more train services, leading to a jump from 93,000 journeys in 1983 to 450,000 by 1989 when Thatcher loyalist Michael Portillo, then Minister of State for Transport, saved it, albeit on mainly economic grounds. A poignant aspect of the film is the sight of campaigner Graham Nuttall with his border collie Ruswarp, which famously stayed with his owner’s body for 11 winter weeks when Graham died by a remote Welsh river in 1990.